must, of course, consider your opponent when deciding
whether to bet a fair hand for value or to bluff.
Against a perpetual caller, obviously you should rarely
bluff. However, against such a player you should bet
any hand that you figure is a reasonable favorite
to be the best hand. In contrast, against a tough
player capable of tough folds, you can get away with
bluffs more often, but you should be more reluctant
to bet your fair hands for value. A tough opponent
is not likely to pay you off with his worse hands,
and when he does call, he's likely to show down a
hand that beats you.
Here is a typical situation showing when a bluff is
right and when it is not. Let's say in draw online
poker games you draw three cards to a pair of jacks,
and your opponent draws three to what you suspect
is a pair of aces. First, we'll assume your opponent
is the type of player who will almost always fold
if his hand doesn't improve. In this instance, your
play is to bluff if you don't improve since you may
make your opponent throw away his pair of aces. However,
if you make jacks up, you should check rather than
bet for value since you are a big underdog if you
bet and get called. If your opponent calls, he is
likely to have made aces up.
Now let's assume your opponent is the type who almost
never folds. Against this player you cannot bluff
with one pair because he will almost certainly call
you with his bigger pair.
However, if you make jacks up against him, then you
should bet for value since your two pair are almost
a 5-to-2 favorite to be the best hand when you get
called. The difference is that this opponent will
call with one pair of aces as well as with aces up,
whereas the first opponent would most likely not have
called with only a pair of aces.
recently used a tell. It was a pretty big pot and
I'd missed a draw. It was seven-card stud and I had
a pair of treys. A player bet and everybody else folded.
I asked him, "I haven't seen you bluff all night,
can you beat a pair?" He immediately sucked in
his breath and went completely rigid. He was able
to say "yes" almost without moving his lips.
I called. He had no pair.
When a player artificially freezes, making no movement
or sound, its a strong indication that he is weak.
Be careful with this one though, because some players
do this when they are strong. Most players are more
afraid to give away weakness than strength, but there
Players who are bluffing tend to be hesitant to do
or say anything because of a fear that they'll give
away their weakness by their actions or the tone of
their voice. They are afraid of a call. Players who
aren't bluffing don't have the same fear that you'll
fold. They still win the pot if you fold, so that
one extra bet isn't as important to them. They don't
fear the risk of giving away their hand by talking
because it won't cost them the pot; at most, it will
cost them a bet.